When Ty Warner began creating Beanie Babies, plush toy animals filled with beans, in his suburban Chicago condo in the mid 1990s, he was on to something. The veteran toy salesman knew that he could make money and create something rare. He only sold a limited number of the first Beanie Babies and quickly retired them. A group Chicago area soccer moms picked up quickly on the idea that the $5 investment would turn into hundreds if not thousands of dollars in profit. The royal blue first edition Peanut the Elephant was one of the original Beanie Babies and is worth as much as $7,000 today. Here is how the Beanie Baby Peanut the Elephant is worth $7,000.
H. Ty Warner was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1944 and grew up with his parents and sister in a Chicago suburb. After graduating from college, Warner, an aspiring actor, headed to Hollywood. When his dreams didn’t pan out, he returned to Chicago and joined his father as a sales representative for the toy company Dakin. Warner spent eighteen years with the company and was often considered eccentric. He did this to draw attention to himself while on sales calls so he could get in to see the buyers.
In 1980 Warner left Dakin and visited friends in Italy. It was there that Warner noticed the variety of plush toys that kids played with. When he returned to Chicago, Warner began building a stuffed toy company out of his suburban Chicago condo. He first created a line of collectible stuffed bears that were released annually. Warner began developing the idea for Beanie Babies in the early 1990’s. Instead of using traditional stuffing, he designed his toy animals using beans. He deliberately under stuffed them to make them more pliable for play and to make them more lifelike. He also added special generation swing and tush tags. Poems were added to some of the tags which made the toys more endearing.
Maybe sensing the possibilities of attracting collectors, Ty Warner sold the toys to small independent toy companies. Some of the first Beanie Babies, like Peanut the Elephant, were retired early. This may have been a calculated move by Warner. When the Beanie Baby collectors craze began, the toys really started to sell. Warner kept the supply limited, increasing the value of the stuffed animals. By 1998 Ty, Inc. sold over $1.4 billion in Beanie Babies.
The original Peanut the Elephant
The first generation Peanut the Elephant Beanie Baby was released on June 3, 1995. This is one of the original nine Beanie Babies sold in the first year of Ty, Inc. The royal blue plush elephant features white on its ears. There were about 2,000 produced. Peanut features the red and white heart Ty, Inc. first-generation swing tag hanging from his right ear and featuring a poem in his honor:
- Peanut the elephant walks on tip-toes
- Quietly sneaking wherever she goes
- She’ll sneak up on you and a hug
- You will get
- Peanut is a friend you won’t soon forget!
- Peanut’s tush tag is black and white as all of the original Beanie Babies had.
Some believe there was a factory error with Peanut the Elephant and he wasn’t supposed to be royal blue. It may just be that Ty Warner wasn’t happy with Peanut’s sales. His ex-girlfriend and business partner Patricia Roche suggested a baby blue elephant would sell better. The original Peanut the Elephant was quickly retired on October 2, 1995 and from thereon baby blue Peanuts were manufactured. The quick retirement and distinct color of the original Peanut the Elephant makes him one of the rarest Beanie Babies and one of the most sought after by collectors hoping to make a profit from his resale. The famous royal blue elephant was later released as a “Teenie Baby” with McDonald’s Happy Meals in 1998. Peanut even had a song named for him released by The Gigglebellies.
The Beanie Baby Craze
While the original Beanie Babies became a collecting craze, many would say that Peanut the Elephant kicked the “Beanie Craze” off. When four suburban Chicago soccer moms noticed that the original Beanie Babies were only sold in small independent toy stores, only six at a time and were quickly retired, they realized the value that these original collections could have. The women called toy shops all over the country to see if they had particular Beanie Babies for sale. Soon people all over the country were searching for rare Beanie Babies to add to their collections and sell for a profit.
Beanie Babies didn’t need advertising. Word of mouth is what spread the trend. Soon, articles were written in collecting magazines. Peggy Gallagher, one of the original collectors wrote an article for “Rosie’s Collectors’ Bulletin” in 1996 noting that Peanut the Elephant was the rarest Beanie Baby. Gallagher even offered a price guide for the original Beanie Babies’ values. News of Beanie Babies spread. In 1997 a dad from New Jersey published a price guide “The Beanie Baby Handbook” which sold over a million copies. In it, he listed the value of Peanut the Elephant at $4,000 and predicted that Peanut the Elephant would be worth at $7,000 within ten years.
A little over two decades since the release and retirement of Peanut the Elephant, the dad from New Jersey’s prediction holds true. An authentic Peanut the Elephant is valued from $2,000 to $7,000. For an original owner, that $5 investment in 1995 paid off well.
Collectors of Peanut the Elephant must be careful he is authentic and not a counterfeit. As the Beanie Baby craze took off, many counterfeits were made. The counterfeits are smaller with a shorter trunk and longer nape. The fabric on a counterfeit Peanut will be rough and the ears not smoothly sewn on. The tush tag should be printed in black and white, as all of the original Beanie Babies’ were and the copyright should read 1995.